Not rated, 80 minutes
In Turkish with English subtitles
Salty or sweet. Run or walk. Cat or dog. Most people divide themselves into 2 groups, especially in that last group of dogs and cats. Though I am certainly more of a dog person myself - my allergies don't always enjoy being around cats - the fun new Turkish documentary "Kedi" about stray cats on the streets of Instanbul, Turkey, is an absorbing, tender look at felines, and suitable for animal lovers of all kinds.
Thousands of street cats live in Istanbul as they have for centuries. Some are wild and fend for themselves, while others are tamer and are cared for by people. Kedi depicts these cats, and includes many interviews of the people who interact with them. It focuses on seven of the cats, who are named Sari, Duman, Bengü, Aslan Parçasi, Gamsiz, Psikopat, and Deniz.
Written, directed and produced by Turkish, American-based filmmaker Ceyda Torun, "Kedi" is an affectionate look as it follows cats in and around the streets of Istanbul, and the impact they have on the humans they come in contact with, many of whom are animal and cat lovers. Though Torun doesn't intellectualize the impact of the kitties, there's no denying the warm, therapeutic effect that cats have on their owners.
There's the old guy at the market who cares for an attacked kitten, lady who takes care of cats as a form of therapy, the sailor who takes care of cats because he feels they bring him good luck, and yes, there's the inevitable - yes, they even have them in Turkey - cat lady who cares for a number of cats all over the streets because she feels they care for her.
It's most insightful when Torun turns her camera on the cats and lets them be themselves, often playful or hunting or caring for their children, and it's easy to see that they do have some personality traits such as bravery and jealousy, and often fall prey to some of the same illnesses as humans, such as cancer. That's not to say that cats are human, but they obviously have a strong sense of awareness.
"Kedi" is a pleasant, entertaining documentary, especially made for animal and cat lovers of all ages, and also shows what a beautiful city that Istanbul can be at times. There's not much to it, and it's often redundant - how many different ways can you show cats doing the same thing - but it's appealing and charming enough for a spell as Torun keeps dangling that string in front of the audience to keep us watching.